Latest News

HEALTH CARE COMMISSION GETS UNDERWAY

Focus On Retiree Insurance Cost

APRIL 3, 2012: As we have previously reported, the Association will take part in the Special Commission on Retiree Health Care that gets underway Thursday, April 5.

The eleven-member Commission, created within Chapter 176, Acts of 2011 (Pension Reform), is tasked with further exploring various means by which retiree health insurance costs might be lowered.

Insurers, flexibility, and savings

By Steven Syre
Globe Columnist  
March 30, 2012

The most interesting social experiments start with one basic question: What does it take to make people change the way they do something important?

Health insurance companies doing business in Massachusetts are wrestling with that question right now. They are rolling out all kinds of new medical insurance products, trying to figure out what kinds of limits and restrictions people are willing to accept in order to save money on their premiums.

McGOLDRICK RE-ELECTED TO STATE BOARD

McGOLDRICK RE-ELECTED TO STATE BOARD

Theresa McGoldrick, without opposition, has been re-elected to a 4th three-year term on the State Retirement Board.

McGoldrick serves as one of the State Board’s two elected members along with Ralph White. State Treasurer Steve Grossman is the Board’s chairman, retiree Pat Deal is an appointed member and SEIU Local 509 Political Director, Chris Condon the fifth member is elected by the other Board members. Nick Favorito is the Board’s Director.

Group: Localities saved $80 million after curbing benefits

Boston Globe
March 20, 2012

A taxpayer group said Monday that Massachusetts cities and towns have saved $80 million on health care since the state enacted a controversial law last year that forced teachers, firefighters, and other municipal employees to give up some of their collective bargaining rights.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded watchdog that advocated for the law, said in its report that the overhaul was likely to save more than the $100 million annually that had initially been projected by the group.

PENSION BOARD APPOINTS LEGAL CHIEF

PENSION BOARD APPOINTS LEGAL CHIEF

MARCH 22, 2012: The Commonwealth’s Public Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) has voted the appointment of Attorney John Parsons to the post of PERAC General Counsel. This key position had become vacant when Barbara Phillips, longtime General Counsel, retired. Phillips had been with PERAC and its predecessor PERA since 1984.

GIC ANNUAL ENROLLMENT APRIL 9 – MAY 7

15 Statewide Health Fairs Scheduled

MARCH 19, 2012: The Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission will hold its annual Open Enrollment period from April 9 through May 7, 2012. During this period, all retirees and employees insured under one of the GIC plans may switch their insurance coverage.

During this time period, the GIC will hold a series of Health Fairs across the state - fifteen in all.

Municipal Health Care Savings Continue to Climb

MARCH 19, 2012: Massachusetts cities and towns have reached nearly $80 million in first-year savings from municipal health care reform and are on pace to exceed by far the initial estimate of $100 million, according to the most recent data compiled by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

PENSION OVERSIGHT BOARD APPOINTS COMPLIANCE OFFICER

PENSION OVERSIGHT BOARD APPOINTS COMPLIANCE OFFICER

MARCH 6, 2012: Tom O’Donnell has been named by the Public Employees Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) to oversee the new retirement education program and pension fund investment reporting requirements for members of our state’s 105 public retirement boards.

GIC APPROVES 1.43% FY13 PREMIUM INCREASE

No Copay/Deductible Changes

March 2, 2012: Providing good news to those state, teacher and municipal retirees it insures, the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) has approved its lowest insurance premium increase since 1999 – just 1.43% across its eleven different plans. Rate changes are effective for Fiscal Year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012.

Gov. Cuomo’s Pension Proposal

Editorial

Across New York State, years of generous and sometimes overly generous benefits have made government pensions unaffordable. Thanks to contract sweeteners and giveaways by Albany politicians, New York City’s pension costs have risen more than fivefold, to $8 billion this year from $1.3 billion in 2002. Other communities are in similarly tough straits.

LISTON NAMED TO TEACHERS’ RETIREMENT BOARD

LISTON NAMED TO TEACHERS’ RETIREMENT BOARD

Seven-Member Board Now Complete

FEBRUARY 29, 2012: Richard Liston, a retired Everett special education teacher has been named to fill an opening as the seventh member of the Teachers’ Retirement Board, the Commonwealth’s only seven-member Board.

Liston was voted to that seat for a four-year term by the first six members of the Board after interviewing five finalists over the past month. The seat had been previously held by Linda Ruberto, a retired Pittsfield teacher, who declined a new term after 20 years on the Board.

The elderly should share the burden

By Robert J. Samuelson
Washington Post

One hallmark of the Obama administration’s budget policy has been to exempt the elderly from major cuts, even though spending on the elderly — mainly through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — represents 40 percent or more of the budget. The main reason is political: The elderly (it’s presumed) would vote against politicians who would cut their benefits. But to justify the policy, politicians and others often portray the elderly as financially vulnerable with scant savings.

ASSOCIATION PEC DESIGNEES ATTEND MUNICIPAL HEALTH FORUM

ASSOCIATION PEC DESIGNEES ATTEND MUNICIPAL HEALTH FORUM

Focus On New Municipal Insurance Law

FEBRUARY 14, 2012: Association members were among the over 200 attendees at a recent forum on the new Municipal Health Insurance (MHI) law, that was held at Boston Fire Local 718’s Florian Hall in Dorchester. They gathered together as the retiree designees on the Public Employee Committee (PEC) for their community or school district.

Annual Insurance Hearing Draws Retirees

Annual Insurance Hearing Draws Retirees

FEBRUARY 1, 2012: Over 100 employees and retirees attended today’s annual public hearing of the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) held in Minihan Hall at the Lindemann Center.

Dolores Mitchell, Executive Director of the GIC, presented an extensive update of all commission activities and an estimated projection of future needs and costs.

Mitchell started by pointing out that the Commonwealth could be under some pressure from the added costs of Federal health care reform.

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation says unfunded retiree health care liability is growing for towns and cities

SPRINGFIELD – This city has $761.6 million in unfunded liabilities for municipal retiree health benefits, which works out to more than $12,000 in unfunded liabilities per single-family home.

Holyoke has $300 million in unfunded liabilities, working out to about $18,000 in unfunded liability per single-family home, or about 59 percent of Holyoke’s median household income, according to a study recently released by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

2011: DOWN YEAR FOR STATE PENSION FUND

JANUARY 25, 2012: Year 2011 was not a good year for the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund.

Data released at this month’s Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board meeting show that the $47.4 billion fund barely creeped into the black with an earnings of 0.26 last year.

After strongly recovering from a disastrous Year 2008 when the Fund lost -29.50% of its value, followed by earnings of 17.06% in Year 2009 and 13.56% in Year 2010, the Fund was a victim of the worldwide market slump last year.

ESSEX BOARD NOW COMPLETE

ESSEX BOARD NOW COMPLETE

PERAC Approves Vincent Malgeri as 5th Member

JANUARY 23, 2012: Today, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) approved the fifth and final member of the Essex Regional (County) Retirement Board.

MASS. TAXPAYERS FOUNDATION: UNTIMELY ASSAULT ON MUNICIPAL HEALTH COSTS

MASS. TAXPAYERS FOUNDATION: UNTIMELY ASSAULT ON MUNICIPAL HEALTH COSTS

JANUARY 13, 2012: Yesterday, January 12th the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) under its ubiquitous leader Michael Widmer unleashed an untimely attack on municipal health insurance costs.

A brief summary of the report was included in today’s Boston Globe, including a response by Shawn Duhamel, Legislative Liaison of our Association and Ed Kelly, President of the Professional Firefighters Union.

Huge retirement shortfall in cities reported

Group is alarmed by benefit funding

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff  
January 13, 2012

A Beacon Hill watchdog group has released a report indicating that steep cuts to education and other public services are inevitable in 10 of the state’s most cash-strapped cities to fund the rising cost of health care for their municipal retirees, unless the Legislature makes changes.

ACTION AT THE TEACHERS’ BOARD

ACTION AT THE TEACHERS’ BOARD

2 New Members and a 3rd Scheduled

UPDATED: JANUARY 13, 2012: There’s been action aplenty over the past two months at the seven-member Teachers’ Retirement Board.

A December election has seen incumbent Karen Mitchell top a five candidate field in winning a second four-year term on the Board.

Finishing second and also winning a four-year term on the Board was Dennis Naughton, a retired 38-year Millis teacher.

KERRY FILES WEP/GPO REPEAL BILL

KERRY FILES WEP/GPO REPEAL BILL

Takes Lead In Senate With Maine’s Collins

JANUARY 10, 2012: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has filed legislation calling for the full repeal of the dreaded Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). S2010, cosponsored by Republican Susan Collins of Maine, places Kerry in a leading role on the issue of Social Security fairness.

The big squeeze

It has been more than three decades since Proposition 2½ became the law of the land here in the commonwealth, but there is no question that the last few years have been the hardest on municipalities. A combination of shrinking revenue on the federal, state, and local levels has met up with a near-record growth in the costs of health care and pension funds. The result is a bleak present and, in all likelihood, a dimmer foreseeable future.

Health agency names 5 ‘Pioneer’ accountable care organizations in Mass.

Boston Globe

December 20, 2011

Massachusetts is set once again to become a testing ground for a major federal effort to overhaul the health care industry.

Five of the 32 hospital systems and physician groups that will become “pioneers” in a program to change how doctors are paid for the care they provide Medicare patients are from eastern Massachusetts. Starting Jan. 1, the federal program will give them a budget to care for their more than 150,000 patients, rather than a payment for each test or treatment.

MORE MUNICIPALITIES EYE INSURANCE CHANGES

Heavy Activity on Cape Cod, South Shore and Nashoba Valley

DECEMBER 19, 2011: As 2012 approaches, the number of municipalities eyeing changes to their local health insurance plans is rapidly growing. In the past two weeks alone, the Association has had requests from 18 separate local entities seeking a retiree representative to the local Public Employee Committee (PEC).

Fiscal woes at peak for towns

HOLLISTON - The problem

Thanks to a flagging economy, the last two years have been the most financially difficult for Bay State towns and cities in 30 years, according to a report by the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Statewide, municipal budgets grew by a combined 1.2 percent in fiscal 2010 and 2011, a new two-year low, the report said. Property taxes increased 3.8 percent statewide last fiscal year, the smallest one-year increase since Proposition 2½ began capping property tax increases in 1982.